Historically the big Thanksgiving quandary has been how to )) revive leftover turkey. Lately, it has been joined by another concern: how to accommodate vegetarian eaters who prefer their holiday meal to be free of the fowl.
In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, namely making people happy by feeding them, I tracked down two ways to smooth over these rough spots in what should be a weekend of seamless eating.
To resurrect the tired bird I settled on an old-time remedybathing it in a can of mushroom soup. This recipe originated in a folksy newsletter that years ago came out of Shenandoah, Iowa. I got it by way of a Midwestern neighbor. When I was growing up in St. Joseph, Mo., one of our neighbors, Jenny Palmer, subscribed to Kitchen Klatter. Despite the fact that my brothers and I were constantly knocking baseballs onto her roof and footballs into her yard, this woman seemed to like our family.
At least she was friendly to my mother, and passed along to Mom the Kitchen Klatter recipe for baked chicken supreme. My mom quickly tried it out on her four children, and has since substituted turkey for chicken and fed it to her grandchildren. In other words, it is a thoroughly family-tested leftover.
Next I called Yamuna Devi, the author of the new vegetaria cookbook "Yamuna's Table" (Dutton, $23) and a woman who doesn't eat turkey. Ms. Devi said rather than trying to mock the flavor of the holiday bird, she preferred to make a dish that stresses the flavor of fresh vegetables. For a Thanksgiving entree, she suggested making a loaf of vegetables and tofu, dappled with a sauce of yellow peppers and tomatoes.
Jenny Palmer's baked bird supreme
Serves eight to 10.
4 pounds cooked turkey (or chicken) meat, broken into bite-size pieces
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup broth or bouillon
6-8 cups soft bread, broken into crumbs
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs, well-beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
salt, pepper and sage to taste
In a large skillet, saute onion and celery in butter until they are translucent. Add the bread, eggs, baking powder and milk. Mix well and add the seasoning. Cook for 3-5 minutes until ingredients are well blended.
Place turkey pieces on bottom of 9-by-13-inch clear baking dish. Spread dressing evenly on top of turkey. Top with can of mushroom soup. Pour on chicken broth or bouillon until you can see liquid on sides of dish. Bake in 350-degree oven for about 1 hour. Remove from oven; let stand for a few minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
Yamuna Devi's vegetable and tofu loaf
Makes 6 servings.
1 pound firm tofu, drained
1/2 -inch slice peeled fresh ginger
1-2 jalapeno chilies, seeded
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups finely shredded carrot
1 1/2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
olive oil spray or 2 tablespoons butter
Slice the tofu and press between absorbent towels to extract all excess liquid. Break the drained tofu into pieces. Place the ginger and chilies into a food processor and mince. Add the bell pepper and pulse to chop coarsely. Add tofu and pulse, then process to crumbly powder.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Steam the carrot and cabbage until wilted. Add the vegetables, flour and baking powder to processor bowl and pulse until you have a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper. Coat loaf pan with oil or butter. Pour mixture into pan. Bake until golden brown, about 1 1/4 hours. Loosen with knife and invert onto cake rack.
Serve on platter surrounded with yellow-pepper tomato sauce. The recipe for Yamuna Devi's yellow-pepper tomato sauce is as follows:
Yellow-pepper tomato sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups.
3 yellow bell peppers
3 yellow or orange tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
herb salt, cayenne to taste
Broil peppers on all sides until the skins blacken. Transfer to a plastic bag and cool for 15 minutes. Rub off the charred skins. Seed, derib and coarsely chop the peppers.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Gently warm before serving. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.)